After leaving Italy to work in Indonesia for four years Napolese head-chef, Rino, has won gold-prizes for his deserts and even catered to the Indonesian president in Jakarta. At 38 years old Rino has helped set up multiple Italian restaurants across the continent, including four in China. Now here in Guangzhou, Rino spends his morning preparing home-made mozzarella cheese and hand-prepared fresh pastas.
“Its authentic Italian dishes, but sometimes I’ll make innovations but not on the flavours or the way to prepare that dish, but in the way that I present it.
…we don’t localise the food, maybe we localise the service a little bit…but pesto is pesto.”
With so many Italian restaurants opening up across the province, food lovers are spoilt for choice, but when in China, many restaurants choose to ditch the authenticity and cash in with the local Chinese by catering to their tastes. Rino argues that as an Italian chef in China it’s a moral obligation to serve authentic Italian dishes instead.
“Italian food is getting more popular in china, it’s a cuisine that is largely copied in bad ways, it’s difficult to find a bad copy of a French restaurant but it’s very easy to find a bad copy of an Italian restaurant.
…I want to keep the tradition ways but also include innovation, I do a lot of creative work, but the basics must be kept, which is why most of the ingredients are imported from Italy.”
With almost every item on the menu, with the exception of fruits, vegetables and fish, being imported, the restaurants foremost approach is to offer the real-deal.
For Rino the cultural-cuisine clash between the west and the east is a battle he is not giving up on too easily, but when 50% of their cliental are local Chinese he accepts there needs be some give and take.
“We try to suggest, first you have the appetizers then we go to the main course, it’s difficult sometimes, some customers are ready to try this but we cannot force them, we try to explain the reasons, that you shouldn’t mix the flavours…but it’s not that easy.
… If they’re very busy in the kitchen and they want all there dishes all together, it’s very hard, it’s not a Chinese kitchen.”
Rino is hoping to not only teach local Chinese about the ways of authentic Italian cuisines and etiquette but offer those who know good Italian food, a decent meal. Although not yet fully opened, their menu will be available from September. Customers will be able to try out a new dish every day from the chef’s specials menu or choose from the main menu which will see changes every six months.